Black Lives Matter protests disrupt travel more than shopping

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A much-anticipated afternoon of demonstrations by supporters of Black Lives Matter started at the Mall of America Wednesday but soon moved to the Twin Cities airport, causing delays for some airline and light rail passengers.

MPR News says about 500 protesters gathered at the Bloomington mall, which has a policy prohibiting political protests.

Bloomington police and State Patrol troopers closed off much of the mall to protesters, the Pioneer Press reports, with security officers also blocking access to parking ramps and some entrances.

A message on a large screen ordered demonstrators to disperse or face arrest.

Many of the protesters did leave the mall and boarded light rail trains for the short trip to Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

They were met there by police who prevented most from entering.^tfw

But outside the airport, roads to both terminals and light rail trains in the area were all temporarily blocked, the Star Tribune reports.

WCCO says traffic leading to the airport came to a virtual standstill for a time and backups persisted well into the afternoon.

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BLM: Mall rally a decoy

In a statement on its Facebook page, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis called its appearance at the Mall of America a planned diversion in advance of its airport demonstration.

The Minneapolis chapter of the group has been protesting the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police since it occurred last month. Their Facebook post says they're also protesting the practices of airport police, who they say use racial profiling to discriminate against black people and those perceived to be Muslim.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis says its local actions were part of a nationally coordinated protest involving chapters of the group in five other cities (Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles).

A statement from the national Black Lives Matter movement hailed Wednesday's rallies and read in part: "Black Xmas is here and there will be no business as usual until we get accountability for our dead, and justice for the living."

Arrests, closings, no injuries or damage

By Wednesday evening, things had returned to normal at Mall of America and the Twin Cities airport. Police told FOX 9 four protesters had been arrested at the mall and eight at the airport.

FOX reports a statement from mall officials said 80 stores had been closed for about an hour and added "Mall of America has a longstanding policy banning political demonstrations and protests on our private property. That policy is in place to protect the safety of all Mall of America guests, employees and tenants."

The station says police reported no injuries or property damage in connection with the protests.

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